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Siphonia:
Australian Upland

by Chris Wayan, 2006-9

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Map of the Australian Upland on Siphonia, a study of the Earth with 90% of its water drained away.

Australian Upland

Australia is now a great plateau, mild in the north along the Carpentaria River, and cool in the Tasmanian south. Most of the desert is now sparse forest, especially in the west near the hurricane-generator called the Wharton Sea.

The drier Eyre and Darling Basins are prairies--hot in summer, cold in winter; the Darling gets dusted with snow, though the Eyre Lakes keep that region from freezing. The Barrier Range is snowy now; glaciers mantle Mt Kosciusko and the Tasman Range.

Even the low, sinuous Macdonnell Ranges around Alice are white in winter; their snowmelt guarantees year-round water in the Eyre prairies and lakes, intermittent-to-dry in our time.

The cold winters haven't killed off the old Australian fauna and flora, though; it's merely migrated to the capes and slopes of the old continental platform. Halfway up, 2 km above the sweltering Wharton Sea and 2 km below the cool plateaus, the coastal slopes and capes like Exmouth, Wallaby, Naturaliste and Tasman form a strip of mild climate suitable for roos, platypi, gums, etc. It's rainier than much of old Australia and with richer soils, but life ain't complaining--in fact the biomass along this strip rivals all that of our Australia.

Arafura

Nor is the whole plateau cold. The former Gulf of Carpentaria is a huge, gentle, tropical plateau much like the Papuan highlands were on old Earth. The Papuans, not being stupid, migrated here when their own land grew cold and thin-aired. Their old home is now about the largest tropical icefield after the Andes, but their new home, called Arafura, is just as fertile--and much, much bigger. The climate is springlike year-round.

Arafura's a world population center, one of the few in Siphonia's highlands--not quite a former continent, but about as close as it gets. No, wait, that's not true: see the Amazon Highlands, solid land before the Big Slurp; it now sustains a much denser population, despite its thinner air and lower temperatures, than when it was a rainforest...

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